There is saying in our church, one that goes restated with much frequency, "Forget yourself and get to work." Having heard it so many times, this repeated thought lost its punch with me a couple years ago, but perhaps that is because I didn't get it.
I do now.
The balancing act between hearing updates of my sister and brother-in-law's state of being in Arizona, caring for their family, breast-feeding a newborn and remembering that I am a wife first, leaves me somewhat in shock most of the time. I am surviving mostly on love mixed with a healthy supply of adrenalin.
I find that it is most manageable by being present with the living joys: a good husband, a houseful of happy, hopeful children and my thriving newborn. In that mix are sweet e-mails, blog comments and cards in the mailbox. At night, when it is quiet and dark I allow my mind to visit that Arizona burn unit. I can be sad. I can cry. I can wonder about possible futures. I rework every scenario until all is conceivable, then pray to a listening Father in Heaven.
Forgetting myself comes easy in the morning when Ollie--four inches from my face--wakes me up by proclaiming that he wants "toast with butter and honey on it." (Three year olds are so delicious that they should be dipped in chocolate and sold in department stores during Easter.)
From that point on, there is bread to be toasted, cereal to pour, school lunches to be made, girls to dress, hair to comb, shoes to wrestle on (shoes! the hardest part of motherhood!) action guys to find in hungry couches . . . it isn't until nap time that there is any recognition of self (physically and cognizantly) whether I choose it or not. (Being a self-centered person, I can safely say I most likely would not choose, having once prided myself on looking hot. . . or what I thought was hot. Oh well.)
Sometimes the forgetting myself comes in allowing my sister's wishes to possess family planning time to take advantage of a Utah autumn. Mornings at the Provo Farmer's Market, late afternoons going for tractor rides with Uncle Ric, pin-pointing changes leaves from our mountain-view bedroom windows. We do the Saturday BYU football tailgate parties up at Grandpa and Umi's, meet cousins in the park to expire the last of the day's energy and let Aunt Lucy give us make-overs before princess parties with new friends. Nights are spent in the playroom with Chup making toys out of straps and skateboards, re-creating the Olympics with Claire, while Lucy sits on the floor doing puzzles with Jane shooing away a whistling Gigs. The Chief contentedly watching from his battery-operated swing.
And in the spirit of Steph and Christian, there is valuable time spent with Chup, alone. The conversation usually leading to courage and encouragement, "It was awesome when you used your shop vac to clean up 'the accident' in the hallway tonight." "Even though you don't feel it, you looked smokin' in that blue dress you wear everyday. . ."
Forgetting myself and getting to work is my challenge, but it makes sense. I'm still figuring out who I am, and what is going on, anyway. Like I already said, my life is still coated in shock and it may be that way for awhile. What I am learning is this: forgetting myself is foremost what I desire, making it so that in the long run I really am getting what I want.
S&C Update: Still remain in critical condition. Steph will have a couple more skin graft surgeries this week. Christian remains intubated.